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Full text of "NightRider"

266

sing by your head, there's one thing you can lay to. That's
that it'll sound a lot worse when it happens than you ever
reckoned it would."

"Now that's a mouthful," the small man agreed.

" I ain't honing to hear one," Mr. Murdock said again.

The small man looked up inquiringly at Doctor Mac-
Donald. " Was you down there," he asked, " in Cuba?"

" No," Doctor MacDonald answered.

The men began to turn away from the small man, to each
other and to the fire. Some of them were putting on their
overcoats and mackinaws. The small man stood by himself
now, his shirt and underwear still pulled back to expose the
scar of the old wound. He himself looked down at the scar.
Then, tentatively, as though there might yet be pain in it, he
prodded it. He looked around, secretively, at the other men,
but they were shaking hands and saying good-night to each
other. He fastened his clothing, pulled on a worn mackinaw
and a black fur cap with ear-flaps, and moved toward the
edge of the largest group.

The men began to leave, going out the door by twos and
threes. Professor Ball stood at the door, very erect, saying
good-bye to each man as he went out. Finally, all of them had
gone, except Mr. Munn, Mr. Christian, and three other men
from over beyond Bardsville. They stood in front of one of the
fireplaces with Doctor MacDonald. Professor Ball approached
them, and said, " Well, gentlemen, I feel we have had a very
successful meeting,"

" It had better be," one of the men observed, a thin-nosed,
dry-skinned fellow with drooping sandy-coloured moustaches.
His name was Peebles, and he came from over near Monclair.
He spoke, and then, with deliberation, spat upon the declining
embers.

"How do you reckon your people are gonna take this?"
Doctor MacDonald asked.

"They ain't gonna complain none," the man said, "not
much, no-way. They been on short rations so long they're
nigh ready fer anything you name. Take me," he added,